Duke’s Mason Plumlee polishing game with Nets

07/14/2014 7:21 PM

07/14/2014 7:29 PM

The NBA has slowed down a bit in Mason Plumlee’s second season, but there’s still a blur around the former Duke power forward.

When the Brooklyn Nets’ team flight to Florida for the NBA summer league touched down, players learned that coach Jason Kidd was headed to Milwaukee, quickly replaced by former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins.

“I was blindsided. Defensive end coming off the (edge) … I had no clue,” Plumlee said of Kidd’s abrupt departure from the Nets after one season. “I was very surprised. I think everybody was.”

Having not met Hollins when the week started, Plumlee has played well in Orlando, averaging 18 points during his first three games and showing how much he has worked to be a better shooter. He shot 18-for-24 (75 percent) in those games, showing a willingness to step outside and hit mid-range jumpers as well.

“All week, I’ve been looking to score – not force anything, let the game come to me but to be aggressive in my spots,” Plumlee, 24, said after a game at the Amway Center. “I’m ready when I’m open. That’s something that’s going to be there, and it’s going to open up my game.”

The Nets continue to tinker with their lineup, acquiring guard Jarrett Jack from Cleveland, adding to an established veteran core that includes stars Kevin Garnett (38), Joe Johnson (33) and Deron Williams (30).

Plumlee averaged 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds last season, earning first-team all-rookie honors, and perhaps was best known for blocking a LeBron James shot with four seconds left in a one-point April win that finished a four-game regular-season sweep of the Heat.

Plumlee, whose older brother Miles is entering his third NBA season with the Suns, finished the regular season strong, averaging 14.3 points over his final seven games. His role diminished during the playoffs, however, and he played just two minutes in the final three games as Miami eliminated the Nets in the second round.

The 22nd overall pick in the 2013 draft, Mason Plumlee was able to play more than expected as a rookie because Brooklyn star Brook Lopez missed all but 17 games with a foot injury. A 6-foot-11, 235-pounder, Plumlee understands he’ll be a role player again (“We’ve got some $20 million men on the team,” he said), but he is making an impression on his teammates with his summer play.

“He’s doing what we knew he could do,” said guard Marcus Teague, another NBA who was a reserve leading Brooklyn’s team in summer league last week. “He showed signs of it during the season last year, and he’s coming out here and dominating like he’s supposed to.”

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